I have not belonged to a photography forum for around 4 years now. I waved goodbye to some and one even waved goodbye to me. I have been a member of many different online forums, from big to small, invite only to massive associations. Back in 2008 when I was just starting out as a wedding photographer they where fantastic for me. I absorbed as much information as I could and I shared my knowledge of retouching and other bits and pieces where I could. I love to teach as much as I love to learn so this was never a barrier for me. After a few years I could spot the bitterness and negativity. Now, please do not think that this is an inherent problem found only within the photography community. I only have to hear about the Rugby and Cricket forums from Craig to know that this is down to good old human nature. I have created a little check list here for you to see if the community is right for you:

• How do you feel when you are in the forum? What is your gut telling you?
• How do you feel after the forum read? Happy and inspired or irritable and gossipy?
• Are you still learning a lot from your particular forum or is it just a time suck?
• Would you want your potential bride and groom's to read what you have written in the forum posts? Imagine that forum became public one day and all of what was said was free and open on the internet to read!

I am not saying that there are NO communities out there for you. Just choose wisely. Narrow it down to the ones that make you feel good and positive afterwards. Which groups or forums are inspiring to you? Stay away from negativity and gossip in the industry.

For me personally I belong to a few film photography groups on Facebook which are fantastic as they are all about the photography and nothing about the industry. That is what I find inspiring for me right now.

Photograph by Craig Bruce of me in Santorini
Contax 645, Fuji 400h, Richard Photo lab